SHERIDAN — While other communities have tried, Sheridan has proven successful in recruiting niche manufacturing firms to move to the area. Tuesday, Adam Weatherby announced plans to move his family’s well-known firearms manufacturing company to Sheridan, adding an additional 65-90 jobs to the community over the next several years.
The announcement — streamed live on Facebook from the SHOT Show in Las Vegas — came on the heels of the State Loan and Investment Board approving a $12,592,090 Business Ready Community Business Committed grant last week for Project Enterprise, which Tuesday’s announcement revealed as the firearms company currently based in Paso Robles, California.
Community members who attended the event held at the Black Tooth Brewing Company, which streamed the announcement, cheered when Weatherby broke the news officially. Weatherby displayed a Wyoming flag in its booth at the SHOT Show and showed an artist rendering of what the new building in north Sheridan will look like. Local and statewide leaders have touted the recruitment as a major win for the state, which has aimed to diversify its economy for decades. Weatherby, Inc.’s move adds to the manufacturing hub that has developed in Sheridan County and includes companies like Vacutech, L&H Industrial and Kennon.
Gov. Matt Mead emphasized in an interview with The Sheridan Press Friday that while the move will add to economic viability of the state and community, the benefits go beyond dollars.
“They are a fit in every way,” Mead said. “They got Sheridan; they loved the people; they loved the community. … It’s not just the economics, the taxes. It’s the people. Sheridan, I think, did a magnificent job showing itself very, very well.”
Weatherby, who was named president of his family’s business more than a year ago, said the company has been looking for a new home for about three years.
Weatherby met with Mead at the 2017 SHOT Show and continued conversations with the Wyoming Business Council to move things forward. In May, representatives from the company visited several communities around the state and fell in love with Sheridan, Weatherby said in an interview with The Sheridan Press. The city’s relatively mild climate paired with the backdrop of the Bighorn Mountains and easy access to outdoor recreation sealed the deal alongside the grant.
Weatherby informed the employees of the company a couple weeks ago, letting them know the move was based on approval of the SLIB grant that will be used to construct a building up to 100,000 square feet in size for the manufacturer. The Sheridan Economic and Educational Development Authority will own the building initially and lease it to Weatherby with an option for Weatherby to buy the facility down the road.
In addition to the state grant, an in-kind match of $1,960,200 for Lot 1 in the Sheridan High-Tech Park and $322,874 in cash make up the local financial commitment to the project.
The grant and revenue recapture plan ensures that 100 percent of the state’s investment in the project will be recovered, which SEEDA board member and Northern Wyoming Community College President Dr. Paul Young emphasized is important for the community to understand.
Young said Tuesday that the community’s and college’s actions over the last decade have ensured Sheridan was ready for the task of recruitment. Emphasis has been placed on technical training at the college, SEEDA was formed about a decade ago and infrastructure in areas like the Sheridan High-Tech Park was put into place. The combination of all of those things — and the welcoming, can-do attitude shown by community leaders — combined to bring Weatherby to Sheridan, Young said.
Part of a community’s readiness, he added, is the ability to be opportunistic, working around obstacles and finding ways to accomplish the tasks at hand.
Weatherby said his family’s company was looking for a state that respected and upheld individuals’ Second Amendment rights, had lower operating expenses and fewer regulations, a better tax structure, easy access to the outdoors, big game hunting and a reasonable cost of living for its workforce.
This summer, Weatherby will hire in the areas of sales, marketing and accounting. The initial staff will work in a temporary office until the SEEDA-owned facility is completed, which is expected to be in the spring of 2019. The company plans to hold a job fair at Sheridan College in April.
Weatherby’s management team will speak with existing employees more in-depth in the coming months to determine who plans to move with the company to Sheridan. Weatherby said he would expect about 25 percent of the existing workforce to move. While the company expects to continue operations with 65 employees initially, Weatherby said the lower cost of business in Sheridan will allow for expansion and bring outsourced jobs back into the business.
Both Weatherby and Young also noted the opportunity for additional manufacturing and businesses in the outdoor industry to move to Wyoming and potentially to Sheridan.
“We want to be ambassadors for Wyoming and the outdoor industry,” Weatherby said. “There is a lot of potential and a lot of incentives for folks in the industry that could end up moving; there could be more that move to Sheridan. We hope to be pioneers in that.”
Read full article at: http://thesheridanpress.com/83793/weatherby-announces-move-to-sheridan/